2017-10-01 – Matthew 20.1-16 – God’s Economy

2017-10-01 – Matthew 20:1-16– God’s Economy

The Laborers in the Vineyard
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

2017-10-01 – Matthew 20.1-16– God’s Economy, pg 21

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. Thank you and God bless you.

This morning we are continuing in the sermon series on The Parables of Jesus. Last week’s message was about how Jesus helped His Disciples understand how they could increase their faith. First He told them that they only needed a tiny bit of faith because it is really God who performs the miracle in the first place. Then through the parable, Jesus introduced the idea that faith and humble service are interlinked.

Today’s message is called God’s Economy. Money, Money, Money
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03JdA7lCLTo    (song intro)

And just like last week, it involves some of the dynamics of being a servant of God, but in particular the role of money and blessings and God’s grace.

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 20:1, page 21 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.      But first let us Pray… 

Before we start in the parable message today, it is prudent to reflect upon what happened right before these verses for the context. Even though this is a new chapter, you see the first sentence starts out with “For the kingdom of heaven is like….” That word “For” suggests that this is a continuation of a dialog for which this parable is relevant to. So please turn back one chapter to Matthew 19:16, and let me first read this to you in its entirety so we don’t miss apply what Jesus is trying to teach us. This section is entitled The Rich Young Man

16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

27 Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

So in these verses, Jesus is trying to change their way of thinking. He is talking about money and possessions and how it all relates to our purpose and our eternal life. Jesus tells them and us, over and over that we should be concentrating more upon our eternal position than our current mortal situation. Most of you should know that Jesus has said previously that God will take care of our every need. That every hair on our head is numbered (and for me that’s a small number). He said that not even a sparrow can hit the ground without Him knowing it and that we are much more valuable to Him than a sparrow. Jesus is telling us here, just like he told the rich man previously, just like He told the Disciples then, that God will provide.

Jesus is trying to set them up for success. And He doesn’t want them or us today to be so enamored or worried about money, and we shouldn’t put the pursuit of it over that of the His mission and the joy that He has for each and every one of us. Money isn’t bad in itself, but an unhealthy pursuit of it is. It’s all about priorities.

That’s what takes us to our parable today, starting in chapter 20, verse 1 and it is entitled The Laborers in the Vineyard; Jesus said:

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

So in the previous verses we started with today, Jesus ended with saying that Everything we will need or want we will have, “a hundred fold” more even He said, then Jesus ended both these chapter sections with the same message, “the first will be last and the last will be first”. This shows us that all of this was really one continuous teaching effort. Jesus used three different mechanisms for teaching one concise message that day. Sometimes good teachers do that as it is helpful or even necessary to get the message across to the audience.

Jesus started this parable with the words “for the kingdom of heaven is like”. Many messages Jesus gave us start out with this “Kingdom of Heaven is like” statement. I believe He did this because it is something most everyone deliberates upon, and because it is something that is difficult for us to comprehend. Could you imagine trying to convey something like Heaven to mortal people who really have any idea in that regard. I thought about this for a while, and came up with this analogy if you could imagine; it would be like trying to teach a deaf and blind little child how to communicate with the world. Of course I am referring to Helen Keller. But where do you start? How do you break through? That is the kind of challenge Jesus has in trying to teach them and us on what Heaven is like. And He surely desires for us to start thinking more about the kingdom of heaven and God’s economy, and start living now like we believe in it.

This parable reminds us to expect the unexpected in regards to rewards, the first will be last and the last will be first. Now you should know that a day laborer was very common in Jesus’s day. It was common to hire out of a pool of laborers that made themselves available for a days work for a days pay. And a Denarius was the normal expected payment amount for a days labor.

Notice in the parable when the man hired those laborers he didn’t promise any certain wage, but instead the manager only promised them what was fare. The big argument was that the laborers thought the one that worked longer should be getting more. I found it interesting that the he specifically setup, that the ones that worked less would be the first to get paid. (“the last will be first”).

And then he paid them all the same amount. The ones that worked the longest probably saw the amount that the one-hour workers made and was excited to think that they might get multiples more in pay because they worked more time. But that didn’t happen did it. Now if the order for which the workers got paid was changed around, paying the longest workers first, probably nobody would have been to the wiser and the ones that worked the least would have been very gracious, for they all got a whole days pay. But then we might not have the lesson to learn today as we do. In the Gospels, many things Jesus did and said was only so that we could learn from them and that God would be glorified in the process. And regarding money, Jesus hit the subject hard because He knew we needed that much learning on the subject to change our way of thinking.

But it didn’t seem fair for the workers that worked longer that day. It says that they grumbled. “It’s not fair!” they would probably have said or something like it. Just like our kids might have said frequently, “it’s not fair”. So many things in life are just not fair, and sometimes even I want to grumble too, lol. And we all know of folks that get paid more for less work don’t we. Did you know even at John Deere we didn’t know how much money our peer workers received. We might have known what level they were, but there were several other factors that also influenced our pay, so wage and salary issues were really hush hush. That information was kept close hold, so perhaps that nobody would feel slighted, and maybe nobody would grumble. But this mortal life really isn’t fair sometimes. However as Christians, God wants us to be content with whatever He provides for us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t stand up for ourselves or others, or strive to get ahead, because we should, but we shouldn’t live in that state of grumble.

Notice in his response, the land owner started out with the word “Friend” that is really a “nice rebuke” in those days. The fact that the landowner was generous to some, caused a problem with some. But really in this parable he actually was fair. The Landowner gave those that worked all day what they initially expected and deserved, a days wage for a days work, but he gave a few of the workers grace as well, because they didn’t deserve the whole amount that was normally given for the whole day. And because the landowner showed that grace, the others complained. The landowner probably understood that all the men needed a full-day’s wage denarius to survive for the next day. They probably had families and needed that money even though they didn’t fully deserve it. That is grace.

And that is what Jesus is trying to show us about heaven. Jesus wants to convey that grace in heaven will be given out differently than the way things are given out here on earth. And Jesus is telling them that all their needs will be taken care of in Heaven. The Bible also tells us that there are such things like heavenly rewards to be earned, like thrones, crowns and positions, but our basic needs will be taken care of. Grace prevails in Heaven. “Where God’s kingdom is established, grace prevails.” And we too should be exhibiting that same wonderful character as Christians. Grace, Grace, God’s Grace.

Before Jesus, the Jewish nation lived under the Law of God given through Moses. After Jesus ascended into heaven and the church was established, then we moved into this time of grace. This grace idea is remarkable. Did you know that the Muslim community can’t wrap their minds around that grace mechanism. It boggles their brains. Grace is about forgiveness of sins, but more than that, as Jesus depicts here, grace is also about providing for our every need even though we don’t deserve it.

Law = You get what you deserve. Grace = We get what we don’t deserve.

Sadly there are countless numbers of Christians that do not choose to enjoy the grace that we have been given. Many people today live under a new form of Law thinking that even though they accept Jesus as their Savior, they think they have to constantly meet additional and continual requirements to earn God’s favor and get into heaven. How wonderful it is to know that when Jesus said on the cross at Calvary the words “It is Finished”, and we believe, IT IS FINISHED. That His sacrifice on the cross that day, paid all my debt, past present and future. That is wonderful matchless GRACE ladies and gentlemen. And how beautiful it is to enjoy the freedom of an eternal loving relationship with God as a result. That makes me want to be a better person. That makes me want to exhibit more grace because I receive much grace.

Maybe you are stuck in that mode. That you feel you have to continually do certain things in order to go to heaven. Or maybe you are on the flip side of that, where you feel you need to not do certain things in order to go to heaven?
Either way let me assure you that it is wrong. God’s Grace is complete.

What a draining and legalistic relationship that has to be. They are still living under the Law. No difference with what Moses setup before Christ. Ladies and gentlemen, if the Law was still applicable today, then why did God send His only Son Jesus to die on the cross in the first place? Why did Jesus go through everything that He went through and then on the cross say, “it is finished”. Jesus paid for our sin, and thus we now live in the time of grace, not the law. He satisfied the demands of the law and became the perfect sacrifice for all the sins that He didn’t commit. All of our sin has been paid in full, the verdict has been given and the price was payed. Grace now abounds. Grace, Grace, God’s Grace. We now have a loving relationship filled with His grace. Don’t let the Devil play games with your head and diminish the value of Jesus’s gift of grace & salvation.

So weather you have always been a Christian, or you made that decision today, we are all going to get everything we need, even though we don’t deserve it. Just like the thief on the cross received grace at the last moment when he looked over at Jesus and asked him, Lord what do I need to be saved. Jesus looked back at him and said, today you will be with me in paradise. That thief is you, brothers and sisters, and that is me. He got grace in that last hour, and we too get grace through that same Savior.

Money, Money, Money. But the bible tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

The rich young ruler in our first passages this morning didn’t accept that understanding about money and walked away, and Jesus knew the Disciples too were struggling with that. We as well will struggle with money at times as we live out the rest of our lives. The key takeaway this morning is that we have a compassionate and caring God, who knows our needs and our wants. And He offers you today undeserving Grace, and to that I say, Praise the Lord!

[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..